Breaking News

When the past is present…

“…The great force of history comes from the fact that we carry it within us, are unconsciously controlled by it in many ways, and history is literally present in all that we do.” James Baldwin

 

Mississippi Cops Engage In ‘Systematic Targeting Of Black Residents,’ Lawsuit Alleges

By Nick Wing

Huffington Post Black Voices

Courtesy of the ACLU

The sheriff’s department of Madison County, Mississippi, methodically and often brutally targets black residents with a coordinated system of checkpoints and unconstitutional searches, the American Civil Liberties Union alleged in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

These alleged tactics have left the black community of Madison “under a permanent state of siege,” the suit says.

In an 86-page complaint, the ACLU of Mississippi and the law firm Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP accuse the Madison County Sheriff’s Department of abusing its power to uphold racial segregation and oppression in Mississippi’s wealthiest county.

“For Black residents, Madison County is a Constitution-free zone where their right to equal protection under the law and against unreasonable searches and seizures is nonexistent,” Jennifer Riley-Collins, executive director of the ACLU of Mississippi, said in a statement.

Madison County is approximately 57 percent white and 38 percent black, according to the 2010 Census. The population remains starkly divided along both racial and economic lines, however, with “predominantly Black towns, neighborhoods, and business districts and predominantly white towns, neighborhoods, and business districts,” according to the suit.

Read the entire article here

Read the full ACLU suit here

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Harvard Will Hold School’s First Ever Black Commencement

By Taryn Finley

Huffington Post Black Voices

(Photo by Paul Marotta/Getty Images)

Black students at Harvard University are getting their kente cloth stoles ready for a special graduation ceremony: an all-black commencement.

Two days before the general university graduation, black students will celebrate the obstacles they’ve overcome and the accomplishments they’ve made despite racial issues they face at their Ivy League. More than 170 students and 530 guests have confirmed their attendance to the May 23 celebration, according to The Boston Globe.

Though black students have held separate graduations at predominantly white institutions before, Black Commencement 2017 will be Harvard’s first university-wide graduation ceremony honoring students of the African diaspora. Student organizers raised more than $27,000 to pay for the ceremony and reception. Though this year’s celebration includes mostly graduate students, organizers hope to expand the event to include undergraduates next year.

At a time when students are pressuring Harvard to reckon with its role in slavery and address current racial issues on campus, they see a separate ceremony as a way to reaffirm and uplift their community.

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New Report Reveals Racial Bias In California’s Traffic Court System

By Tanasia Kenney

Atlanta Black Star

California’s failure-to-pay policy for traffic tickets has resulted in over 4 million suspended drivers’ licenses in recent years. (Photo by RichLegg/Getty Images)

California’s traffic fines are some of the steepest in the country, and a new report shows that the state’s current policies for those unable to pay are disproportionately affecting Blacks and Latinos.

The report, published by the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights last week, covers the most recent information on California’s traffic court system and highlights how its policies unfairly impact residents of low-income, nonwhite communities.

The consequences are often harsher for Californians who can’t afford to pay their traffic fines, including license suspension, arrest, jail time, wage garnishment, towing of their vehicles and even job loss, according to the report. In the end, affected drivers are forced to ante up even more cash just for being poor. Meanwhile, those who can afford to pay are let off with a slap on the wrist for the same minor traffic offenses.

“In Bay Area counties, the burden of the current policies fall heavily on people of color,” wrote authors of the new LCCR study, “Paying More for Being Poor: Bias and Disparity in California’s Traffic Court System. “African-American residents are four-to-16 times more likely to be booked into jail on a failure-to-pay-related charge. This rate is higher than the [disproportion] found in initial traffic stops.

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Betsy DeVos To Deliver Commencement Speech At Historically Black University

By: Taryn Finley

Taryn Finley reports in a recent article published in Huff Post Black Voices that “U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is set to deliver the commencement speech at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach, Florida, the school announced on Monday.”

Finley quotes Preident Edison O. Jackson’s statement in a press release:

“The legacy of Dr. Bethune is that she was not constrained by political ideology, but worked across all parties to support B-CU.”

Finley also shares BCU graduate Domininik Whitehead’s Change.org petition to prevent DeVos from speaking at the ceremony that is to be held May 10th:

“Having DeVos speak at the commencement ceremony is an insult to the BCU graduating class, students, alumni, family, friends, and Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune’s legacy. We, the proud alumni of Bethune-Cookman University, do not want Betsy DeVos to have a seat at our table. Please rescind her invitation to speak at the graduation ceremony.”

According to Finley, the petition has more than 4,500 signatures as of Tuesday morning, more than five-hundred short of the goal.

Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images

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Debunking a Myth: The Irish Were Not Slaves, Too

By

Nytimes.com

This 1908 photograph of fishermen in the parish of St. John, Barbados, is often used to illustrate memes that falsely claim Irish people were slaves in colonial America. Courtesy nytimes

It has shown up on Irish trivia Facebook pages, in Scientific American magazine, and on white nationalist message boards: the little-known story of the Irish slaves who built America, who are sometimes said to have outnumbered and been treated worse than slaves from Africa.

But it’s not true.

Historians say the idea of Irish slaves is based on a misreading of history and that the distortion is often politically motivated. Far-right memes have taken off online and are used as racist barbs against African-Americans. “The Irish were slaves, too,” the memes often say. “We got over it, so why can’t you?”

A small group of Irish and American scholars has spent years pushing back on the false history. Last year, 82 Irish scholars and writers signed an open letter denouncing the Irish slave myth and asking publications to stop mentioning it. Some complied, removing or revising articles that referenced the false claims, but the letter’s impact was limited.

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Netflix’s Dear White People digs into everyday racism

By

Vox.com

Netflix

Justin Simien’s new Netflix show — the TV version of his 2014 movie of the same name — doesn’t take shortcuts. After breaking down the basics of what makes Winchester tick, Dear White People drops us right into the middle of the particularly messy aftermath of a “Dear Black People” party, which started with students in blackface and ended with royally pissed off black students giving them hell for it. Campus radio host Sam White (Logan Browning) — who helms the blistering “Dear White People” show that the party was mocking in the first place — immediately sets about trying to galvanize the school’s black students into taking a stand the administration can’t ignore.

With that, the show immediately throws us right into Winchester’s sprawling conflicts and interlocking drama. It spits banter so sharp and quick that it slices through even the tensest scenes with laser precision. It digs into the personal wreckage caused by institutional racism with humor, depth, and straightforward clarity.

With heart and humor and a steady gaze, Dear White People makes sure to portray its characters as whole individuals and not just human embodiment of their beliefs. No one is ever reduced to a walking talking point, but given the time and space to reveal who they are, how they got there, and what makes them special — which is, in turn, what makes the show special, too.

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Canadian lawyers are pushing courts to consider systemic racism

By Tamara Khandaker

Vice News Canada

Defense lawyers in Ontario want to start pushing judges to consider how systemic racism may have contributed to the criminal activity of black offenders they are sentencing.

Image courtesy of CBC News

While courts in the province have long recognized the relevance of race and racism when meting out punishment, what has been lacking is a specific mechanism to deal with the issue, argued Wayne van der Meide, a regional manager for Legal Aid Ontario.

The proposed cultural assessment — much like the Gladue report that judges, defense lawyers and Crown counsel can request when sentencing Aboriginal offenders —  would give judges expert evidence on how the person’s environment, as well as the history of racism in Canada, may have contributed to his or her criminal activity.

Read the entire article here

Read about America’s incarceration problem here

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Highly Valued ABHM Exhibit Saved for Future Generations

Griot: Dr. Fran Kaplan

A young visitor to ABHM in 2005 inside the replica cargo hold of a slave ship in the Middle Passage exhibit.

When visitors to America’s Black Holocaust Museum’s former facility (1988-2008) are asked “what are your strongest memories of your visit?,” they most often mention two:

  • Meeting Dr. Cameron, ABHM’s founder and listening to the story of the lynching he barely survived as a teenager, and
  • Standing inside the slave ship cargo hold and listening to a Griot (oral historian/docent) describe the conditions of the Middle Passage.

Sadly, Dr. Cameron is no longer with us to tell his powerful story in person. And this week we almost lost the impactful slave ship exhibit as well.

Fortunately, Dr. Cameron gave many interviews during his lifetime – and left us a wonderfully detailed memoir of his experiences growing up under Jim Crow, including the lynching and his subsequent incarceration. And thanks to the generosity of the company in charge of demolishing our former museum building, the valuable slave ship exhibit was spared the wrecking ball and bulldozer.

On April 21, 2017, just days before demolition was to begin, Greenfire Management Services sent three of their demolition workers to do something extraordinary: spend four hours carefully disassembling the large replica piece by piece so that it could be moved to a safe storage facility to await the completion of our new museum facility in 2018.

The replica of the ship was not removed from the building when ABHM was forced to abandon it in 2008, because there was insufficient time and funds to arrange for disassembly. All other exhibits not built into the walls, floors, and ceilings were moved to storage, but the ship, along with murals representing African life before captivity, had to be left behind. The abandoned building was subsequently vandalized and repeatedly flooded. All the walls and murals became covered in mold – with the miraculous exception of the walls, murals, and timbers inside the slave ship!

(L to R) ABHM’s Brad Pruitt and Dr. Fran Kaplan with movers David, Dave, and Frenchy, prepare to take the slave ship to a safe harbor.

ABHM consultant Brad Pruitt, who has for several years worked closely with Maures Development on the Historic Garfield Redevelopment Project where our new museum will be housed, directed the disassembly and moving teams in the successful effort to save the ship.

One of the movers, Frenchy, vividly remembered his visits to the museum as a young person. As he and the other men lovingly carried each piece from the ruined building to the truck, Frenchy said, with tears in his eyes, “I’m saving a piece of our history!”

Now in storage, the slave ship’s many pieces will eventually be reassembled like a puzzle, refurbished, and restored.

Visitors young and old to ABHM’s new facility will again be able to see, hear, visualize, and clearly understand the torment and deeply admire the strength and resilience of the African ancestors brought to this land in chains.

Please note: In order to return as a bricks-and-mortar museum, to restore its exhibits and create new ones, ABHM must raise $1.5 million by Spring 2018. If you wish to help, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution here.




Photo Gallery: The Rescue of ABHM’s Middle Passage Exhibit

A Voyage to Slavery: The Story of the Middle Passage

As if two simple words could contain the horror, the journey was called the Middle Passage. It was the middle let of a terse and efficient trade triangle where human torture and suffering were unimaginable.

Nearly 20 million Africans were captured during the largest forced migration in human history – spanning over 3 centuries. They were shacked two-by-two and herded onto vessels where as many as 600 other captives awaited the horrors of the voyage. It is impossible to determine how many people lost their lives during the crossing. Current estimates range from 1 million to 2.2 million.

Listen for the spirits of the ancestors. Their sad voices tell us how their story began.

 

The entrance to the Middle Passage exhibit as it appeared in the ruined museum building on April 21, 2017. Visitors walked up a ramp made to resemble a pier, which was once lined with barrels and other cargo. They then entered the replica cargo hold. A curtain at each end once closed them in, as they stood between the shelves on which the captives were stacked.

 

 

 

Workmen carry parts of the slave ship roof and floor past the ruins of the ruined mural of life in Africa before captivity that visitors passed and discussed before entering the Middle Passage exhibit.

Sadly this extensive and beautiful depiction of daily life in pre-colonial Africa was covered in mold and could not be saved.

Three days later, the hall where the Middle Passage exhibit had been was demolished.

 

How Do We Fight Back Against Trump and His Fake News?

From: The Root

By: Monique Judge

Amidst the drama and craziness surrounding the Trump presidency, the concept known as “Fake News” has been at the heat of President Donald Trump’s frustration. Monique Judge defines what fake news really is as she writes, “fake news is something that is created intentionally to deceive; that it not happening in any legitimate mainstream media I can see.” Judge clarifies that news that someone does not agree with is not considered fake news, and this may be where the President is confused.

Judge further explains the definition of fake news and its misrepresentation by the President. In order to fight back against the President and his propaganda against media Judge advises the following,

“Not only do we have to present the truth, we have to do so repeatedly in order for those facts to stick. The same way in which Trump is repeating his “fake news/fake media” mantra to get it to stick in people’s heads is the same way in which we need to come forth with facts that debunk the propaganda he is putting out there.”

 

To read more about this article follow here.

To read more of ABHM’s Breaking News look here.

 

ABHM Co-Sponsors “Racial Justice: The Courage to Act” with Head Griot Reggie Jackson Speaking on Segregation in Milwaukee

Written by: Keith McAllister

Edited by: Zak Morse

Full house!

 

 

April 1st fell on a Saturday this year, and community members from more than 20 different churches and organizations around Milwaukee gathered at Alverno College to engage in the impactful social justice event, Racial Justice: The Courage to Act. The event left attendees with much to think about in the struggle for justice. It also illustrated efforts to build coalitions across organizations committed to racial justice in Milwaukee, including the YWCA Southeast Wisconsin, Rid Racism Milwaukee, and Unitarian Universalists (UUs) for Black Lives Matter.

For a full list of co-sponsors, visit the event page; for insights about the day’s program, check out the hashtag #Courage2Act on Twitter and Instagram.


Among the co-sponsors was
America’s Black Holocaust Museum. ABHM’s Head Griot Reggie Jackson delivered the opening address, which described the impact of  racism in Milwaukee and the struggle for justice in Milwaukee’s past and present. Jackson’s address set the tone early on for serious engagement by addressing directly the scope and severity of the city’s racial injustices.

Reggie Jackson speaking on segregation in Milwaukee.

Jackson described how Milwaukee is the most racially segregated major city in the U.S. “Milwaukee’s issues are literally killing black people.” Wisconsin is the “only state in the U.S.” where the life expectancy gap is not improving, and two thirds of the distressed population in the state is concentrated here in Milwaukee. Facts like these—and many more shown in the speaker’s presentation—are indicative of wider social and economic disparities.

The conference left us with the resoundingly clear message: more action is needed for racial justice. In light of events like Racial Justice: Courage to Act, there is a need for community members to ask hard questions, articulate lived experiences, and help reconcile historical injustices to promote justice in today’s Milwaukee.

For more about the organizations involved, explore the event’s Facebook page.

To learn more about America’s Black Holocaust Museum, please explore the virtual museum galleries.

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